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Belgian goalkeeper passes away having collapsed on pitch after saving penalty



A Belgian goalkeeper who collapsed shortly after saving a penalty has passed away. Arne Espeel, 25, was in the starting lineup in Winkel Sport B’s game against Westrozebeke at their home stadium in Sint-Eloois-Winkel.

Winkel Sport were leading 2-1 when the away outfit were given a spot-kick towards the start of the second half. Espeel is said to have thwarted Mohammed El Baghdadi’s effort but collapsed to the ground shortly after, per Belgian outlet Het Nieuwsblad.

Espeel shouted ‘yes!’ before dropping to the floor.

Emergency services rushed to his aid and did their best to save the 25-year-old. A defibrillator was used, but to no avail. Espeel was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital.

The cause for Espeel’s death has not been announced.

Espeel’s younger brother, Aaron, was on the bench for the game.

A statement from the club after his death read, per the Mirror:

“Winkel Sport is in very deep mourning at the sudden passing of goalkeeper Arne Espeel. We wish Arne’s family and friends our heartfelt condolences at this heavy loss. Football is taking a back seat for some time.”

Winkel Sport B’s assistant Stefaan Dewerchin said:

“The ball was still in play. Our goalkeeper got up as fast as possible to receive the ball, but then he fell. It was really terrible to watch.

“When the message came that our goalkeeper was dead, it was an unusually heavy blow. I think some players still don’t realise exactly what happened.”

While Sports director Patrick Rotsaert told Het Nieuwsblad:

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“It’s a tragedy and a shock to us. Arne had been with the club his whole life, and he was dearly loved. It’s a really hard blow.”

Members of the club, fans as well as the player’s family and friends will walk through the streets of Sint-Eloois-Winkel in tribute to Espeel on Monday.

Our thoughts go out to Espeel’s family and friends. Rest in peace, Arne Espeel.

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